Geological Wonders

10 Days

Starting in/Ending in: Salt Lake City, Utah

Total driving distance approximately 844 miles

Overview

North America is made up of rich landscapes with natural wonders ranging from unusual geological formations to massive icy glaciers. The National Park system protects and preserves these Earth wonders where visitors can marvel at Mother Nature’s great displays of beauty. Salt Lake City, the vibrant, urban heart of Utah, is a great gateway to the geological wonders within the Rockies! Rising above a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and alpine terrain, the Teton Range stands as a monument to the people who fought to protect it. These are mountains of the imagination. Mountains that led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park Just north of it is Yellowstone, the world’s first National Park, gaining this esteemed title in 1872. Guests come to marvel at this site, a caldera formed when the super-volcano last erupted 600,000 years ago. There are over 300 geysers in the park, but the most famous is Old Faithful, which spews 8,000 gallons of boiling water every 90 minutes. In addition to its many natural glories, Yellowstone is a wildlife sanctuary that serves as home to free-roaming bison, grizzly bears, moose and elk! And there is more – like Craters of the Moon, a vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush – another wonder not to miss on your way back to Salt Lake City!

Trip Highlights

  • Great Salt Lake
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Itinerary

Arrive in Salt Lake City. Wander through downtown and explore the surprisingly diverse assortment of cafés and restaurants are waiting for you. From great American classics to dining options from every corner of the world, you will find exactly what your tastebuds are craving for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Eat hearty to keep up your energy - Salt Lake also boasts a vibrant nightlife with nightclubs, sports bars, piano bars, pubs and martini bars; which means there's plenty here to keep you up long after the sun goes down.

Overnight: Hotel RL Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City, Utah (2 nights)

Temple Square is Salt Lake City’s main attraction, dedicated to the city’s founding religion, the Mormon church. See renowned architecture or take a trolley tour to capture great photos of the four-hectare square and other city sites. Stroll the free botanical gardens and arboretum at Red Butte Garden. Experience Utah’s famous powdery snow at Wasatch National Forest, or venture to the high-speed bobsled ride at Utah Olympic Park, where you might see Olympic athletes training. A visit to Great Salt Lake in the summer is a must; the water is so salty; you can float right on top.

Travel north to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. From Logan, Utah, Route 89 follows the Logan River northeast toward Bear Lake. On either side of the river rise the steep slopes and dramatic limestone cliffs of Logan Canyon. Among the intriguing stops along the route is the Preston Valley Campground, where a sign calls attention to a slab of quartz tunneled by tiny seaworms some 400 million years ago. Turning north at Garden City, Route 89 parallels the western shore of Bear Lake, whose aquamarine waters lay on the border between Utah and Idaho. Because geologic events isolated it from surrounding bodies of water, Bear Lake has managed to nurture four species of fish found nowhere else in the world. Just north of the beach is Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 18,060 acres consisting mostly of wetlands that provide nesting places for snowy egrets, white-faced ibises, and Franklin’s gulls. The fast way north to Jackson is via well-traveled Route 89 through the Star Valley. On the road into Jackson, you'll glimpse the views that Ansel Adams made famous.

Overnight: Mountain Modern Motel, Jackson Hole, Wyoming (2 nights)

Spend the day in Grand Teton National Park. Located in northwest Wyoming, the park is home to the Teton Range, Grand Teton peak and the valley known as Jackson Hole. Locally known as the ‘mountains of the imagination’, the area offers clear blue lakes, a diverse array of wildlife and encompasses over 200 miles (322 km) of trails for hiking, biking or snowmobiling.
Get up early to have the best wildlife viewing experience.

The John D Rockefeller Memorial Highway links Grand Teton National Park to Yellowstone National Park. Stretching more than 3,500 square miles (9,605 square km) and three states, Yellowstone National Park, the USA’s first national park, sits atop a volcanic hot spot that creates impressive geothermal activity. Head past your lodge for the night and make the drive up to Old Faithful area. Bring a lunch, grab a seat and eat while waiting for the next eruption of Old Faithful, a geyser that spews hot water approximately 17 times a day. While there, stop in the historic Old Faithful Inn, believed to be the world’s largest log structure, which was built in 1904 from local materials. While exploring the park, stay on the marked boardwalks and trails to see other natural wonders, such as hot springs, geysers and pools. You’re likely to encounter wildlife – including wolves, elk, bison, bear and moose – during hikes or mountain bike rides on one of the park’s many backcountry trails.

Overnight: Grant Village, Yellowstone, Wyoming

Today, drive up to Lake Village and check out Yellowstone Lake. Continue up toward the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Drive up through Dunraven Pass. This is a great time to hike to the top of Mt. Washburn for gorgeous views of the park. It's an approximately 6 mile round trip hike. You'll have checked out of your first hotel, but you'll get two nights at the Canyon Lodge.

Overnight: Canyon Lodge, Yellowstone, Wyoming (2 Nights)

Head up toward Mammoth Hot Springs area. Check out the Roosevelt Arch, at the north entrance to the park. It's possible to take a swim break at Boiling River Hot Spring, a naturally occurring spring, in this area.

There is so much to explore in this park, but three nights will give you a chance to explore a large portion of the 2 major loops.

Travel into Idaho to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in the Snake River plain. The volcanic wonderland encompasses of enormous lava flows, a testament to violent eruptions more than 2,000 years ago. Just outside Twin Falls, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument contains the most prehistoric horse fossils in the USA as well as many other animals, including mastodon, saber-toothed cats and bears. See some of them in the visitor center.

Overnight: Holiday Inn Express Twin Falls (Complimentary Continental Breakfast), Twin Falls, Idaho

Before returning to Salt Lake City, visit Gold Spike National Historic Site, dedicated to the historic completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad. Plan a summer visit on a Saturday to relive the celebration during the reenactment of the ‘Driving of the Last Spike’.

Overnight: Hampton Inn Salt Lake City Airport (Complimentary Full American Breakfast) Salt Lake City, Utah

Day 10 :
Tour Ends

Trip Includes

  • 9 hotel nights at published hotels (or similar), local hotel taxes and resort fees (except where mentioned), travel tips, maps, and brochures. Complimentary Breakfast subject to change at the hotel’s discretion.

Trip Excludes

  • Rental car, gas, parking fees, porterage, flights, airport transfers, meals, unless otherwise specified in the tour description, park & attractions entrance fees, unless otherwise specified in the tour description, ferry charges, travel insurance.

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/ Single Occupancy Room (1 Adult)
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/ Child 17 years and under with 2 paying adults
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/ Infant 5 years and under with 2 paying adults
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/ Double Occupancy Room (2 Adults)

Trip Info